Politics postsSaturday February 18, 2017
The Science of Stopping Trump
John Holdren, the top science adviser to Pres. Barack Obama, spoke at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on Friday, in Boston, and among other things offered up this advice to his fellow scientists for navigating the anti-intellectual, anti-science and anti-fact-based administration of Donald Trump. It's good advice for all of us:
- Don't be discouraged or intimidated.
- Keep doing your science ... don't change what you do or how you think about what you do or its importance.
- Become more broadly informed about science and scientific issues.
- Tithe at least 10 percent of your time to public service ... including activism.
- We as a community need to think carefully about how to focus and utilize our activities to try to insure the continuation, momentum, and the integrity of science in this new era.
I like “tithe.”
Some comments from the White House press corps to each other after Pres. Trump's first disastrous press conference on Thursday, as reported in Andrew Marantz's piece, “Inside Trump's Surreal Press Conference,” on The New Yorker site:
- “Did he literally say the words 'Russia is fake news'?”
- “Surreal. Surreal. Surreal.”
- “Who's the banana republic now?”*
- “April, I have a black friend in Cleveland—could you send him a message for me?”**
- “I mean, I can't even.”***
* from a reporter who's covered Latin American dictatorships
** to April Ryan, an African-American reporter, whom Donald Trump assumed would know the Congressional Black Caucus
*** from April Ryan
A Modest Proposal
I went to an anti-Trump, pro-LGBTQ rally at Cal Anderson Park yesterday morning, because that's what we do nowadays (sign spotted there: PROTEST IS THE NEW BRUNCH). Turned out it was put on by the Socialist Alternative of Seattle. It was a good crowd for a Saturday morning, and I'm all in favor of unity, and I'm hardly a public speaker myself so who am I to make suggestions? Yet here I go:
- Lay off the blanket attacks on capitalism. Attack the billionaire class, the .1%, Wall Street, Trump and his cabinet, dark money, Citizens United. But capitalism itself? I certainly have my problems with capitalism (it benefits the ruthless and unethical to a degree it shouldn't), but a blanket attack can only backfire. Focus on what we can do.
- Don't attack “corporate Democrats.” In the fight against Trump, we're all allies. Remember that. Don't shoot at your flank while the enemy is still on the rampage.
- Avoid “toppling the tsar” analogies. A rally on March 8 was mentioned. It was also mentioned that this was the day the so-called February Revolution began in 1917, which eventually led to the toppling of the Russian tsar. A friend looked at me and rolled her eyes, and I said, “Yeah, I don't think that ended well.”
It always makes me laugh when Republicans—most recently Jason Chaffetz of Utah, overwhelmed by his own constituents at his own town hall—claim that left-wing protesters are bought, they're paid for, since this would imply a kind of cohesive, united attack that the left has never displayed in my lifetime. We're usually all over the place. Everyone's got their pet cause, and many can't see the forest for their particular beloved twig. We can't afford that any longer. We need to focus. Trump is the reason we're out there in droves. Remember that. The future of the country depends upon it.
'Oh No, Not Court'
After the unanimous decision yesterday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to uphold the stay on Pres. Trump's ban on refugees and all immigrants from seven countries, and after Pres. Trump angrily tweeted, using (yes) all caps, “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!,” this was my favorite response:
“oh no, not court” —judges— both are equally bad (@caseyjohnston) February 10, 2017
That said, some part of this still plays into Trump's small hands. I'm still worried about the Reichstag fire. Any attack on U.S. soil now, and Trump can say, “See? But the courts wouldn't listen to me!” A big enough attack and who knows what he'll get.
The discussion is still in the details. He talks “extreme vetting.” The current vetting process takes 18-24 months, and involves eight government agencies, six security databases, etc. etc. I'm sure it can be improved, but how? The blanket ban on both refugees and seven countries that haven't been involved in any recent attack is a shitty answer to that question. Give us a less shitty answer.
I hate how much of the news I have to unpack every morning. It seems I always have to fight through the clutter to get to the story.
- Wait: Mitch McConnell prevented Elizabeth Warren from ... what exactly?
- From reading a 1986 letter Corretta Scott King wrote against Jeff Sessions, who back then was up for a federal judgeship, and who's now up for U.S. Attorney General. King wrote that Sessions “used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens.”
- So why was Warren silenced? Is there a rule against reading letters?
- It's Rule No. 19, which prohibits senators from insulting each other on the Senate floor.
- You're kidding. How long has that been around?
- Since 1902. It was adopted after a fistfight on the Senate floor.
- And how often has it been used?
- I'd say. Besides, Warren isn't exactly attacking a “fellow Senator” here. Sessions may soon be the chief law enforcement officer in the land. He has to be vetted, right? Extremely vetted. What if you have something negative to say? Can't you say it?
- Haven't seen anything on this yet.
Anyway, it's easy to see what happened. It was an obscure rule of procedure, McConnell is hugely knowledgable in obscure rules of procedure that benefit him and his party. He's also a major asshole. So he did what he did. He stifled her. And the right-wing propaganda machine fell in lock-step. It added insult to injury.
Except, beautifully, McConnell's words have been used against him. Here's what he said in justifying his actions:
She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.
Faster than you can say, “Fuck you, Mitch,” #ShePersisted was trending on social media, and memes—with Rosa Parks, Hillary Clinton, Harriet Tubman, et al.—were popping up against the backdrop of McConnell's words. In trying to shut up Warren, he handed her a microphone to the world. He gave the movement a slogan.
Meanwhile, our president tweeted an attack on an American business, Nordstrom, because it dropped his daughter's clothing line. That one I don't need to unpack.